Monday, September 26, 2005

This is a post about a superhero named Stoney

This time Taylor and I sat together for the show. (If he gets sick he's on his own, goddamnit.) We were in line waiting for the doors to open, getting the same flyer for an after party from at least three different people; it was at the same rather lame dance bar we ended up at the night before, needless to say we figured we'd have better luck at Trapper's.)

We got in and were looking at the Merch table, but $35 t-shirts weren't really my cup of tea that day. Especially since I was already wearing my totally supercool blue Superchunk t-shirt. Taylor did buy a poster, though, and thus began his quest to protect it from any harm between then and getting to PEI the next day, never letting it out of his grasp the entire time.)

Our seats were very close again. About 10-13m from the stage. We apparently miffed a dude sitting just in front of us who had been a member of Tenclub for over 5 years and I guess was hoping for an even closer seat. The fact that we had been members for about a month before the Canadian dates were announced didn't seem to sit right with him, though he didn't say anything. 10c said that seats were to be distributed based on how long you were a member, but whatever, I'm not complaining. I still say they should distribute floor seats by height. Apparently it's a rule that if you're in Tenclub you are likely to have a very attractive girlfriend. Mine must be lost in the mail.

Wintersleep opening for Pearl Jam in St. John'sWintersleep came out after a few more minutes of Taylor and I engaging in our usual nonsense (we really hadn't stopped the entire trip aside from Thursday night when I was too ticked off to even speak for a while.) They mostly did new stuff, which I was impressed by. The crowd gave polite applause at first, with Gonzo and Taylor and I being pretty audible with our shouts of "JUD!!!!" We totally pwned the PJ crowd with our enthusiasm for the underdogs. The performance was pretty good, didn't approach nearly the level of insanity as their last Brennan's show, but that was just craziness, with people pressing in on the band and threats to stop playing if people wouldn't move back. Wintersleep are very good at building up a mood and raising the tension and feeling throughout their set, and they did the same on Saturday, though perhaps a bit too stringently, with Loel not really cutting loose on the drums until the end.

Wintersleep opening for Pearl Jam in St. John'sBut the last song, “Orca” was when they really won over the crowd. The song starts off slow with very quiet but intense lyrics and slowly builds until the big finish which repeats and undulates and gives the band a chance to really shine with Loel throwing in more and more adventurous fills and Paul's vocals becoming infused with more and more energy. The crowd were mostly all on their feet by the end of their 45 minute set.

Best part of Wintersleep opening for Pearl Jam: Watching the band gather up and take away their own equipment. Now that's indie.

More waiting for stuff to happen. We made sure to talk up the opening band to the people sitting around us. Most people were pretty impressed, though some wish they could have seen Sleater-Kinney again. (Can't blame them for that, of course. PS. Memo to Corin: how can you be my Joey Ramone if you won't sing that song, or any other old hits, anymore?)

Pearl Jam in St. John'sThe show started in pretty short order, seems like they wanted to get out there right away. Eddie greeted the crowd by saying “Live from St. John's, it's Saturday night!” The first songs were all hard rockers, with “Can't Keep” and “Go” starting off followed by “Evenflow”, which almost felt like they were getting it out of the way early, but they always do a great job on it from the live shows I've listened to in the past.

Eddie started talking about what a beautiful city St. John's is and how it feels special to be by the ocean and on the edge of the continent. The next part of the set list is Animal, Corduroy, Nothing As It Seems, Given To Fly, Grievance, Daughter/(Bad by U2/"hey ho, let it go"/WMA), Lukin, U, and Present Tense.

Pearl Jam in St. John'sAfter this Eddie sort of teases the crowd a bit and then gives the microphone to Stone Gossard. Taylor and I then proceed to go nuts, since you know it really is Stoney's band. They've only done it once before on this tour, in Toronto, and never before that, so we were never expecting them to do what we suspected they were going to do. But then Stoney says “You know what I said to the cod before I kissed it? .. Don't Gimme No Lip.” This is a song that Stoney sings and it's completely fun and upbeat and hilarious, not really fitting with Eddie's vibe. They made it seem like they were letting slip a secret of the band by giving Stoney the mic. Stone's duck walk with the mic was one of the best parts of the night. We were all jumping up and down and singing along to “Don't give me no lip / I've had enough of it / Don't give me no lip / I'm just not havin' it.” That more than made up for Stoney's rather understated fashions of the night.

Pearl Jam in St. John'sAfter this Eddie goes back to singing and they play “Better Man”, one of my favourites and one that everyone in the crowd sings along to. I always find this song incredibly sad because it's about a woman who stays with an abusive partner. Radio stations started playing it without it being released because it sounds really soothing and some say it's got a poppysounding vibe to it, but I always thought it was the highlight of the last half of Vitalogy. They really rocked out the ending to this song, the way it sounds very positive even though the lyrics are heart-breaking (“that's why she'll be back again”) gives it a real double-edged sword feeling.

The last two songs of their first set were Porch and Save You. Eddie said that St. John's actually reminds him of West Seattle, but “without all the raping and killing.” The crowd cheered but I wasn't able to bring myself to be happy about raping and killing, even if it's happening somewhere else. I think Eddie has picked up on the undercurrent of simple-minded nationalism that a lot of Canadians have, since he then announced that the next song would be the last one, and after the requisite ‘boo’s he said “you're so easily manipulated”, which I think ties back to the ‘raping and killing’ comment.

Of course the crowd all knew there would be more to come, since it's Pearl Jam and Eddie hadn't even finished his wine yet.

The way it works is when the band takes a break and the stage set is being re-arranged they keep on a couple of the purple spotlights so people know the show isn't over yet. This keeps them in their places but still cheering for an encore.

Pearl Jam in St. John'sFor the first encore they played Thumbing My Way, I Am Mine, Small Town, Black and Rearviewmirror. This was the quieter, semi-acoustic portion of the night to mellow out a bit and Eddie became even more chatty.He talked about St. John's being closer to Ireland than New York City, and how it almost felt that way just by being there. You could tell they really liked Newfoundland. I heard that they were in fact going to spend a few days vacation after the last show there. Between that and Keith Richards saying he wants to buy a Summer home in the Maritimes we may be crawling with rock stars soon now that we've been discovered.

Then Eddie asked the crowd what they were still doing there, “shouldn't you all be down on George St. or something?” (‘we were driving down ... route 401.’ I kid.)

Pearl Jam in St. John'sThe next part was the real rock out section. They went off again and then came back with Whipping, Do The Evolution and my favourite PJ song of all time, Spin The Black Circle. (Eddie then explains how this song is about sitting and playing records. I think he likes to stress this because for a while some confused people thought it was about doing heroin - I don't see how you could mix the two up, personally.) During “Do the Evolution” Eddie really seemed to turn up the anger when he sang “I can kill 'cause in God I trust” Intense stuff because it goes from being a lyric penned as something that might sound good to being the thoughts of the singer at the time, and you connect it more to real events than when you're listening to something static like an album.

Then Eddie says ‘hello’ to the people sitting behind the stage, and then climbs up a rope ladder and faces them to sing “Last Kiss”. Very cool, and he didn't even fall until he was back on the ground again. (oh Eddie, you and your wine...)

The next story is the best one of the night, especially the way Eddie tells it. Apparently Eddie's best friend who was in St. John's with the band was waiting in line at a store and a woman at the front of the line was trying to sell the cashier two tickets for $160, more than they cost, this got a round of ‘boo’ from the crowd. It was pretty obvious that the girl really wanted to go but could quite afford the tickets, but she finally said ‘yes.’ But when the woman went out to her car to get the tickets Eddie's friend goes up to the girl and asks her how many tickets she wants and says however many she wants they're free.

Then they learn that the girl originally did have tickets to the show, but her boyfriend had just recently broken up with her and was taking another girl instead. Eddie then says the girl's name, Kelly, and proceeds to lay the greatest burn ever by calling Kelly up to the stage and saying “well, because this guy was such a loser, Kelly now gets to watch the rest of the show from the stage. And after that she'll be able to use her back stage pass to hang out with us, and hang out with the guys in the opening band. (go, Jud) The girl was shaking as she was standing up there next to Eddie. It was a great moment.

Pearl Jam in St. John'sAfter that they played a really great long jam on Leaving Here and Alive, really bringing the elements of proper jamming into the songs, and it really got the crowd's energy level to peak as Jeff chased Mike around the stage and the two of them ran around with each other musically at the same time. Matt also added in some amazing fills into Alive, but if you weren't paying attention and listening for them you wouldn't have noticed. It's not quite the overtly in-your-face skill display of Soundgarden-era Matt, but it's very very impressive all the same.

Eddie is pretty clearly having a blast this night, and they're bringing out all their big guns, but I had no preparation for what was next. It was just about the end of the show, and they started turning up the house lights, and Mike plays a little melody that I definitely know, and I say to myself ‘That's not what I think it is .. they're not really going to play that, are they?’ But oh hell yes they are, Eddie being the giant Who fan he is, they start into Baba O'Reilly and blow the whole crowd away. It was the most intense moment of the show and you could see the whole crowd jumping up and down and singing along to something they never expected.

Closing the show with the requisite awesome rendition of Yellow Ledbetter while the house lights were up to full was an excellent way to finish things up. A while ago there was a web cartoon that made up some hilarious lyrics to the song, which is basically Eddie mumbling, and you can tell which members of the audience had seen it since half the people I could hear were singing “and I don't wanna wear a box or a bag” as the chorus. Mike's guitar playing was top-notch and the show was wrapped up in perfect style. Much much much better than Chuck Norris, baby.

George St. in St. John's, NLThe night on George St. was spent talking to people about Pearl Jam and other rock concerts people had seen, how great Newfoundland was, and more experiences with incredibly friendly people. One guy I met said that they didn't get nearly enough Islanders up to Newfoundland, and thought it was because we don't ever go anywhere. I tried to defend my home province by saying that it's just because there aren't very many of us. Taylor said that he had been in every province in Canada just this summer, and that Newfoundland is by far his favourite. I would certainly agree with that. Because Pants was still feeling tired and a bit cranky again we just stuck to one place, but that was fine since there were plenty of people in and out of every place on George St. all night.

We watched a screeching in, they rung the bell and did the whole production, which was fun to watch but not quite as fun as Brad White doing it back in MacKenzie House on our Newfie Nights, no foolin'.

We decided to be geniuses and not get a hotel at all that last night. The timing worked out pretty well, though, at least for my scarily still-not-tired ass. We leave Trappers around 2:30, walk up to the hotel where we stayed the night before and where we had arranged for a cab to come by at 4am, and collected our bags. The guy at the desk had no problem at all with us waiting in the lobby and using the old desktop computer there for email and message board updates (Will and Gonzo again. geeks) while I went through all the pictures Taylor took at the show and put them onto my laptop. Unfortunately I didn't tell Taylor not to use too much zoom in the low light, which is why a lot of the pictures are kind of blurry, but they were still pretty interesting.

The plane rides back to Charlottetown weren't as smooth or pleasant as the Canjet flight to St. John's. I dislike Air Canada more and more each time I fly on them. Also, our travel agent very helpfully forgot to adjust for Newfoundland being half an hour ahead, and if we didn't leave an hour for our flight we'd have been screwed. I finally slept when I got home this morning. Now life is back to normal. One thing's for sure, going out in Charlottetown just won't be the same anymore.
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By al - 3:37 a.m. |

so next time pearl jam tours, whaddaya say?
you in my friend?

i still have 3 more songs i need to hear them play. wishlist, man of the hour, and do the evolution
(you lucky bastards)
Oh you know it.
Incredible show. I was there both nights (sweet...a band comes to Newfoundland and it wasn't Trooper or April Wine!) Great review. Cheers.
I made it from PEI to that show too, it was definitly awsome. I saw them in Vancouver back in '97(I think), St.John's was much better. I bought the live recording from their website.
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